You’re looking to create social media buzz about your brand or your event. What do you think is the best way to kick-start conversations?

Which button can you press for automatic interaction?

See what I did there? Ask a question. People want to tell you what they think, and they want to be called out for it. They won’t interact if you’re only using Twitter to tell them how awesome the ice sculpture was at last year’s holiday party.

Finding the right question is not always easy. Here are some tips for crafting questions that are more likely to get engagement:

Make It Relevant

This seems straight-forward and simple, but it can be more tricky than it seems.

Find issues and topics that your attendees are talking about, and let that guide your questions. Hosting an annual gathering? Ask questions about last year’s event and this year’s expectations. Hosting a local event? Ask about specific happenings occurring in your ‘hood.

By making it meaningful to your audience, you’re more likely to get a response. Do a double-take before you hit send and make sure that someone in your network would be compelled to answer. If not, rework it.

Make It Current

Within the realm of good taste, it’s worth asking about current trends within your industry and interests. Last week, tech companies (including us) asked about Apple products after the iPhone announcement. We saw men’s clothing companies ask about college football. Know your audience and stay on top of the current happenings in your world.

Just be smart about it. Things to stay away from: Anything that has the potential to be controversial (read: politics, sex) or be misinterpreted as blatantly outside of the realm of your role. Use common sense. If it’s not something you would ask a stranger at a dinner party, don’t ask your community.

Make It Creative

Now that I’ve scared you with that last paragraph, I’m going to flip the message and encourage you to have a little fun with your questions.

Think differently. Cater to your audience’s unique interests. Last week, Etsy asked Facebook followers which cookbooks live on their shelves, and they received more than 70 responses. Whole Foods received nearly 1,500 comments for asking which food films their fans love. It’s OK to ask something a little off-beat or unexpected.

Make it Useful

During one of my first weeks here, I was struggling to come up with valuable content for our Eventbrite community. I was talking about it with Mitch, our partnerships manager.

“I have no idea who they are or what they’re looking for,” I said.

“Just ask them,” he said.

#Duh. I posted a question on Twitter asking if people were organizers or attendees, and why they followed us. I received a solid number of responses, which I’ve kept in mind when delivering content.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get learnings from your community; they’re happy to tell you, and it will only help you in the future. (And, thanks to all of you who responded back then!)

Make it Trackable

Track which questions you ask, and when you do. Track the responses that you get. Track everything you can.

This helps for planning purposes, and provides easy reference if you ever need to look up results or history. How many questions did you ask your audience in June 2011? Did you increase those interactions in September 2011? Boom. Check your spreadsheet. It’s all right there.

Also, this is huge for testing purposes. A lot of question-asking is going to be trial-and-error. By looking at what you’re asking, and how it was received, you’ll be able to more strategically cater your content to your audience moving forward.

Make it a Conversation

If you’re asking questions, respond where you can. It’s not full engagement if you’re letting the answers sit there. Be conversational about it.

Bonus Ponts: If someone’s answer is worth a retweet, give it a retweet. This will only further highlight the conversation you’re having, while also giving cred to the people who are interacting with you.

Do you have any tips and tricks for driving conversation through social media? Feel free to tell us in the comments section!

We’re already hosting conversations on Facebook and Twitter! Are you part of them yet?

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